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FIFA bans Luis Rubiales for 3 years for non-consensual kiss on Jennifer Hermoso

The former Spanish soccer federation president will not be allowed to carry out any activity related to the sport

Luis Rubiales
Former president of the Royal Spanish Football Federation Luis Rubiales is pictured after leaving court in Madrid, Spain, on Sept. 15, 2023.SUSANA VERA (REUTERS)
Ladislao J. Moñino

The Disciplinary Committee of the International Football Federation (FIFA) has banned Luis Rubiales from holding any position or activity related to soccer for three years for the non-consensual kiss he planted on player Jennifer Hermoso during the celebrations of Spain’s victory in the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup, as well as for his obscene gestures in the VIP box. The subsequent pressures that Hermoso received from the Royal Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) have also influenced the harsh sanction imposed by the disciplinary body of FIFA, which applied article 13 of its code referring to offensive behavior. Rubiales allegedly violated two points of the aforementioned article: “violating the basic rules of decent conduct” and “behaving in a way that brings the sport of football and/or FIFA into disrepute.” Rubiales could appeal the sanction.

Rubiales, who resigned on September 10 from both his position as a federation official and UEFA vice-president, had already been provisionally suspended for a period of three months by FIFA. This first sanction included two directives that prevented Rubiales, the federation and its managers or employees from contacting Jenni Hermoso or her close entourage so as to not pressure or coerce her into admitting that the kiss was consensual. Spanish state prosecutors previously accused Rubiales of coercion and sexual assault.

Rubiales’ attempt to explain the kiss during a histrionic assembly on Aug. 25, in which he presented himself as the victim of Hermoso’s effusiveness and claimed that she consented to the kiss, provoked the immediate provisional sanction by FIFA. Hours later, Hermoso denied Rubiales’ claims by issuing a statement: “I feel obliged to denounce that the words of Mr. Luis Rubiales explaining the unfortunate incident are categorically false and part of the manipulative culture that he himself has generated,” adding that the kiss was “far from consensual.”

The Colombian Jorge Iván Palacio, president of the FIFA Disciplinary Committee and a renowned activist in his country for women’s rights, imposed the provisional punishment just two days after he opened proceedings against Rubiales. FIFA disciplinary proceedings usually take longer. But in this case, Palacio thought that the blatant sexism in Rubiales’ speech at the Aug. 25 assembly, in addition to the statement he later issued in which he attacked Hermoso after she denied that the kiss was consensual, amounted to the beginning of the end of his career for having caused, according to Palacios “irreparable damage to the integrity and reputation” of soccer.

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